Texts

 

WORK IN PROGRESS

"Peter Baker's pictures take us in the city where snippets of greenery in midtown New York and downtown Los Angeles appear to be as fake as astroturf and streets become stages where people stumble upon each other, forming haphazard, momentary, and disjointed relations. By defying traditions of street photography, he confronts us with the sanitized anonymity of office buildings and non-places to challenge the mythological identity of New York as a space of one-of-a-kind urbanity. The smoking figure in his Untitled (Anonymous Blue Facade) New York 2014, speaks to ordinary exclusions that govern communal spaces and confound boundaries of private and public. As the random adjacency of bodies in Men, Baseball, New York, where not only bodies but perceptions of movement and stasis also interact, Baker's straight photographs induce ambiguous sensations of claustrophobia and agoraphobia, and address issues of social anxiety and public space.

Baker, Slovenc and Sziladi all expand on the the traditions and the particular esthetic of snapshot, portrait, and street photography to make pictures that are visibly marked by the post-photographic era's inherent doubts about the medium's representational apparatus. Whether they are shot "as is," staged, or reworked as image files, their pictures blur the dichotomy of real and unreal, fact and fiction, analog and digital to prove that being aware of make-believes does not obliterate our need to have them. Their photographs generate varying degrees and kinds of attention. Paying attention, however, does not simply entail the detection of narrative prompts and wonderment over the discrepancies they engender, nor does it only involve an openness to be touched by the Barthesian punctums. What we are required to do is recognize that photography, as Ariella Azoulay put it, is "about the gap between world and picture." A difficult invitation, one which asks us to see the photographs not merely as summations of fragmented facts and fractals of the real to be pondered, but as vestiges of a world which, no matter how senseless, still burdens us with a sense of accountability."

-Agnes Berecz (excerpt from Division Review Quarterly on the Photographs of Peter Baker, Hrvoje Slovenc and Monika Sziladi)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agnes Berecz teaches modern and contemporary art history. She is Associate Professor at Christie's Education and lectures at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Her writings have appeared in Art Journal, Art In America, Artmargins, and the Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin as well as European and US exhibition catalogues.